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Down and Dirty

Pioneering Clean Green Agriculture

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carbon is a certainly the ‘hot’ topic at the moment with Julia Gillard recently announcing the outline for a proposed carbon tax for all Australians, creating a clean energy future.

I believe that each Australian needs to become more aware of reducing their carbon footprint in an effort to alleviate the ever increasing levels of CO2 emissions; however I am not convinced that a carbon tax is best way to achieve this goal.

From an agricultural perspective this is huge as soils are the largest terrestrial sink in which to sequester carbon and can have a huge impact on reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere.

All over the world conventional farming methods have reduced the amount of carbon stored in the soil.  It is estimated that the total amount of soil carbon lost to agriculture, is many times more than the amount of carbon emitted by industry as CO2, since the industrial revolution began. For every tonne of carbon lost from soil we add 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere.

This means that soils have lost the ability to hold water and recycle nutrients rendering the soils lifeless. By adopting biological farming methods research has shown that our soils can sequester over 3 metric tonnes of CO2 –e per hectare, per year.

The Carbon Farming Initiative announced by the Government is promising funding, education, measurement techniques and incentives for farmers to change management and fertiliser practices to restore degraded land, as well as having the ability to earn substantial extra income, being paid for the carbon they store in the soil.  Farmers who take steps to reduce carbon pollution by creating credits for each tonne of carbon pollution stored or reduced will be paid a per tonne price.

Farmers moving to this ‘new form’ of agriculture will benefit in a variety of ways, from improved soil health, productivity and dollars made by carbon trading.  

Soils consist of three pools of carbon, with scientists proving that it is the humus pool that has been the most depleted.  This is where Humus compost, an active carbon, has a enormous possibility, dramatically improving the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil while building soil carbon levels.

Biological Farming and Humus Compost is a path for those who appreciate the great wisdom of traditions of the past, but feel a yearning for a new form of agriculture that is informed by a leading edge understanding of both the land and the environment that supports life.

The use of Humus Compost, which is organic matter digested and then transformed by soil microbes culminating into humus, has proven to fix carbon into the soils making it the ‘jewel’ in the future of clean green agriculture.

Now that there is a greater understanding of the role soils play in sequestering carbon, the face of agriculture is about to change. Both political parties are backing the soil carbon intuitive knowing it is the fastest, most efficient method to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. I believe we are about to enter a period of agriculture and food production where we build soil health rather than destroy it.

Rhonda Daly of YLAD Living Soils on 02 6382 2165